111th SEMI-ANNUAL SEMINAR (Spring 2008)
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINALISTS
May 5-9, 2008
San Diego, California
THE FIRST MICROSCOPE DETECTIVE
Professor Brian Ford, World-renowned microscopist, lecturer, broadcaster and publisher.
Ask people to estimate when the microscope was first used to solve a forensic puzzle and most might guess sometime before WW2. Others might go back further, to the time of Sherlock Holmes, but the real date is centuries earlier. Today we will trace the early years of the microscope and show that the pioneering microscopist Antony van Leeuwenhoek shapes up well, compared to what we do today.
SERIAL NUMBER DECIPHERMENT
Hugh Curfman, San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory
The Smith & Wesson 40F pistol contains a serial number plate that, when defaced, is difficult to restore using chemical restoration techniques. Questioned document examination techniques were used to restore the nubs of bar code remaining after the criminal's scratching and scraping attempt to destroy all meaningful content. The restored and enhanced bar code was then able to be read using the WASP Bar Code CCD LR Scanner. Additionally, use of the VSC 2000 (Foster & Freeman Video Spectral Comparator) enabled the decipherment of the defaced alphanumeric portion of the serial number plate. Each technique, bar code enhancement versus alphanumeric decipherment, stands on its own, and each may have additional applications in which the other is not helpful. Already, limitations in the use of the VSC 2000 have been revealed in casework, and will be discussed in the presentation.
A METHODOLOGY FOR CRIME SCENE ANALYSIS
Tom Bevel, TBI, LLC, Norman Oklahoma
Crime Scene Analysis has two phases. The first is practiced while at the crime scene. It is informal and gives direction for the investigation and scene processing. The second phase is done after the crime scene is processed, the collected evidence is analyzed, and all reports are completed. The second phase is a formal process and employs the scientific method as an accepted methodology. This process forces the investigator to consider all viable ways an action could have been accomplished. The analyst then forms hypotheses for each of the possibilities, tests each possibility against the scene evidence and its analysis in order to identify the "best explanation" for each of the investigative questions being analyzed. This presentation will review the second, formal phase of crime scene analysis using the memory aid "PhD etc".
DETECTION OF CATHINE AND CATHINONE IN KHAT STEMS
Wisam Maroge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Southwest Laboratory
The recurring number of seizures of khat (Catha edulis) in Southern California has brought about the need for preserving the active ingredients of seized khat until delivery to a forensic laboratory for analysis. It is shipped fresh, in bundles, in well-sealed containers, to retain moisture and minimize degradation. However, Lengthy storage and heat cause one of the active ingredients in khat, cathinone, to undergo enzymatic reduction to cathine and phenylpropanolamine. Cathinone is a Schedule I substance, under U.S. Federal Law, and is most potent in khat leaves less than 48 hours old. Cathine is a Schedule IV substance that produces a similar, but lessened, effect than cathinone; however, it does not lose its potency after harvesting. Fortunately, cathinone and cathine are also present in the stems of the khat plant. This work examined two methods for the storage of seized khat stems with the goal of preserving cathinone. The data showed that khat stems, either frozen or dried at room temperature, allowed for the detection of cathinone for the length of the study (7.5 months).
THE JANET MOORE HOMICIDE
Criminalist David Cornacchia, San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory and Author Tom Basinski
In 1988, twenty-seven year old Janet Moore was brutally murdered in her apartment in downtown San Diego. Conventional serology testing that was conducted at the time, suggested that the perpetrator may have sustained significant injury which resulted in substantial blood loss. No suspects were ever identified, and the case went cold. Seventeen years after the crime, investigators would get a break in the case from an unlikely source 3,000 miles away...
FORENSIC ETHICS CODES: OVERVIEW AND CONTENT SURVEY
Carolyn Gannett, San Diego Sheriff's Crime Lab
This talk will describe the purposes of codes of ethics and guidelines for behavior. The contents of 23 forensic associations' codes of ethics or guidelines for ethical behavior were surveyed. The contents will be presented in spreadsheet format for easy reference.
THE IMPRECISION OF THE EXPERT'S LANGUAGE
Raymond J. Davis, CourtSkills
This paper is not a commentary on the technical language used by experts in the courtroom. Rather, on the inaccurate use of the English language where the court demands a greater precision and accuracy in testimony. Over the past twenty years, I have listened to experts use the vernacular language when a more formal use of the language is required and appreciated. A major reason we do not speak proper English may be due to the influence of 185 languages spoken in America. Unlike most cultures that require the correct use of their language, Americans are more forgiving and rarely correct another person. I rarely do, not wishing to give offense. Recall the last time you corrected someone or they corrected you.
I have been studying Swedish for many years and when I failed to pronounce words correctly or failed to follow grammatical rules, I got blank stares in return. I recall several embarrassing times when family and friends corrected my English. That experience made me much more consciously aware of how I speak. From those humbling moments, I have endeavored to speak better, particularly in the courtroom. Because of the formality of the courtroom, where every utterance is recorded, the expert must be diligent in the proper use of language to ensure accuracy of testimony. I am convinced that our credibility and stature in the courtroom is more dependent on how well we speak than upon our credentials. Why? Jurors accept that we are experts and thus focus on how well we communicate our work and results to them, in a clear and compelling manner. Therefore, we must avoid use of the vernacular in the courtroom.
I will highlight some examples in my presentation of terminology that should be, and should not be used. However, first and foremost, do not include jurors in your work. Do not use 'you' when you mean 'a person'. Example from a medical examiner: "When you're stabbing someone with a knife and the blood gushes out onto your hands it can cause the knife to slip over your hand cutting yourself." Correct testimony: "When a person is stabbing someone..." Additional elements that erode our credibility are the repetitious use of words such as 'just', 'basically', 'only' and 'simply'. These words minimize the importance of the work conducted in the laboratory, the sophistication of the instrumentation utilized, and the national standards by which these tests are approved. The most egregious example I've heard using all four words was uttered by a young fingerprint expert. "I'm just a latent print examiner with only four months on the job and simply followed the protocol that gave me basically the results I'm testifying to."
I've heard experts refer to their extensive formal training as "in-house training." This again minimizes the importance of the specialized training people receive through their agency. Remember, young kids applying for a job at Burger King get in-house training. Another one is, "I respond to field calls." What's a juror to think about that phrase? Or worse, "I respond to crime scenes." Never in my career did a crime scene ever call me requesting me to stop by for an investigation. A correct response is, we respond to requests to go to a crime scene. It is critical that each witness focus on the art of their discipline and not just the science of their discipline when testifying.
JUSTICE AND SCIENCE: TRIALS AND TRIUMPHS OF DNA EVIDENCE
George W. Clarke, Judge of the Superior Court, San Diego
Forensic DNA testing technologies have presented the criminal justice system with powerful and unique tools in the solution of crime. Small, often invisible, biological material can successfully be obtained from evidence items previously thought to be useless in criminal investigations. The development and use of polymerase chain reaction-based ("PCR") techniques revolutionized the ability to exclude or include known individuals as the donors of the smallest evidentiary samples. This presentation will summarize the author's experiences in obtaining the admission, in court, of forensic DNA technologies and their impact on the resolution of criminal prosecutions and post-conviction exonerations.
STUDY OF NYLON BAGS FOR FIRE DEBRIS
Christina Henry, Criminalist, Santa Clara Co. District Attorney's Crime Laboratory
Evidence for ignitable liquids analysis must be packaged in airtight containers in order to prevent loss of vapors and cross-contamination. Kapak brand FireDebrisPAK™ has been used in the past to contain fire debris, but is no longer being produced, therefore, use of an alternative container is necessary. There are several nylon bags being marketed now for containing fire debris. This paper will compare two of these nylon bags, Grand River and Sirchie, to Kapak FireDebrisPAK ™ for possible interferences, contamination and loss.
BENZYLAMINES: THE NEW METH "LOOK-A-LIKE"
Ramona M. Sanderson, Forensic Chemist, U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Southwest Laboratory
In early 2007, the Southwest Laboratory identified benzylamines in exhibits submitted for analysis. The frequency of benzylamine exhibits increased by the year's end. In all such cases, the original submissions indicated that the exhibits were suspected to contain methamphetamine. The benzylamines identified were: N-methylbenzylamine HCl, N-ethylbenzylamine HCl, and N-isopropylbenzylamine HCl. In each case, the respective benzylamine was identified either in combination with both methamphetamine HCl and DMSO2 or unadulterated. The exhibits consisted of crystalline shards lending to the appearance of 'ice' methamphetamine. The analysis and comparison of N-Methylbenzylamine HCl, NEthylbenzylamine HCl, and N-Isopropylbenzylamine HCl by GC-MS, FTIR-ATR are presented to aid in the separation and identification of these substances.
Dana Kollmann, Assistant Professor, Towson University and a Consultant for TRC, Garrow Associates
Dana's Sicilian mother made sure she was prepared for any unfortunate event that might await her. She always wore clean underwear in case she was hit by a bus, carried red ribbons in her pockets to ward off evil spirits, had fresh onions on hand to shove in her socks in the event of a fever, and knew that placing a hat on a bed or forgetting to kiss moldy bread before throwing it away were recipes for disaster. But, the day a dead man's hand wound up in Dana's mouth was the day she realized that in forensics, anything can happen - red ribbons or not! Sit back and laugh as Dana Kollmann talks about the unique way that she wound up in the field of forensics and the rather bizarre situations she encountered as she melded her interests in archaeology, physical anthropology, and crime scene investigation.
BLOOD/BREATH ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION RATIOS IN PRACTICE
Lisa Merzwski, Criminalist, San Diego Police Dept. Forensic Chemistry Unit
Those in the contentious world of forensic alcohol analysis and expert witness testimony have heard many arguments about the ratio of a blood alcohol result compared to a breath alcohol result. A myriad of scientific articles explain, discuss, and debate what the true ratio of alcohol in the blood versus the breath really is. What is agreed upon is that the ratio of alcohol in a person's breath, compared to the venous blood in a person's body, changes depending on the stage of alcohol absorption. This issue will not be debated here. The purpose of this presentation is to compare the blood and breath alcohol results from driving under the influence (DUI) arrests made in San Diego over the past three years. These arrested subjects gave either a single or duplicate breath sample on an Intoxilyzer 8000 breath testing instrument followed by a venous whole blood sample that was later tested by heated headspace gas chromatography. These dual subject results give an indication as to what the relationship of blood and breath alcohol concentrations are in drinking drivers in the city of San Diego. This data shows what San Diego's average DUI blood and breath alcohol concentrations are compared to worldwide averages. In addition, this data allows some conclusions to be drawn about the phase of alcohol absorption typically observed in subjects arrested for DUI.
APPLICATIONS OF IGNITABLE LIQUID ANALYSIS TO PROBLEMS IN TOXICOLOGY
Wayne Moorehead, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Department
Methodologies used for capturing and analyzing burned debris for ignitable liquids can be applied to particular cases of toxicological interest. Like burned debris, matrix problems from various samples can complicate normal extraction efficiencies. Abuse of inhalants and attempts at suicide by consuming volatile petroleum products, presents difficulties in recovery by liquid extraction and solid phase extraction methods. The typically non-polar hydrocarbon structures of petroleum chemicals and their various synthesis products are similar to the fats and other metabolic products of the human matrix that can interfere with the extractions.
By using the static adsorption-elution method borrowed from ignitable liquid recovery in fire debris analysis, the majority of the matrix materials can be separated from the compound(s) of interest. Using different strategies for analysis can improve detection of the volatile components. Additionally, one case of petroleum consumption suicide will be discussed.
Janine Miller, San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory
Medical marijuana was legalized in California under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Fueled by a newly-defined consumer base, companies have responded by manufacturing a variety of marijuana-laced products. The San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory received such items seized from an owner of a medical marijuana storefront. Unusual items included butters, jams, syrups, honey, rice treats, and candy bars. The items were packaged to visibly mimic mainstream products. Although seemingly obvious to assume the cannabinoid content of these items by the marijuana leaf logo and "for medical use only" label, the crime laboratory was called upon to confirm this assumption. With this goal, the SDPD forensic chemistry unit has validated an extraction method, developed by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, to isolate cannabinoids from complex food products in a form suitable for GC-MS analysis. This presentation will provide an overview of some of the unusual items in this case and the efficacy of the extraction methodology.
SAMPLING METHODS FOR QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS: A SUMMARY OF ARBITRARY AND STATISTICAL APPROACHES
Amy C. McElroy, San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory
Forensic analysis of narcotics is a straightforward process when only one item is impounded. Impounds containing a large number of items (i.e. multiple bindles, many different colored balloons with unknown material, several bricks, or thousands of tablets) require us to make a decision about the appropriate number of samples to examine. How many do we need to sample in order to be confident we have an accurate representation of that population? In order to become ISO accredited, a sampling plan must be developed to answer this question. In this presentation, both non-statistical and statistical approaches will be reviewed with practical applications, and the current approach the San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory uses for narcotics analysis will be discussed.
STABLE ISOTOPE RATIOS IN HUMAN HAIR ARE RELATED TO GEOGRAPHY
James Ehleringer, Department of Biology, Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 8 112
Stable isotope analysis is a valuable laboratory measurement that complements other analytical techniques used in forensic science. Its value is in providing information that relates to the relatedness of two pieces of evidence as well as to the geographical origins of biological materials. Here we present a model to predict the recent geographical travel histories of humans based on analyses of the stable isotope composition of their scalp hair. This region-of-origin model incorporates hydrogen and oxygen atoms in hair protein to predict the hydrogen and oxygen isotope ratio values of scalp hair. We evaluated model predictions with analyses of human hair from 65 cities in 18 states across the USA. The model explained more than 85% of the observed variation. Based on the geographical distributions of the isotope ratios of tap waters, we constructed maps of the expected average hydrogen and oxygen isotope ratios in human hair across the contiguous 48 states of the USA. These maps revealed regions across which stable isotope values of human hair were isotopically distinct. We apply this model to three different law-enforcement investigations directed at determining the regions-of-origin of these unidentified murder victims.
WORLD'S WORST MICROSCOPY
Professor Brian Ford, World-renowned microscopist, lecturer, broadcaster, and publisher.
Prepare to be horrified by some appalling bad practice in the world of microscopy. Massive mistakes on television, confusion in the press, errors by people who should know better. Brian has been presenting an annual summary of 'world's worst microscopy' at the Inter Micro meeting each year and today we get the overview. Steel yourself, and bring tissues for your tears of sheer amusement.
VARIATION IN DEVELOPMENTAL TIME FOR GEOGRAPHICALLY DISTINCT POPULATIONS OF THE COMMON GREEN BOTTLE FLY, LUCILA SERICATA (MEIGEN)
Meagan B. Gallagher, Forensic Science Graduate Group, University of California at Davis
Time between death and discovery of remains, or, postmortem interval (PMI), can be assessed using blowfly maggot age. Female flies rapidly lay eggs on decedents following death; these eggs and the maggots that hatch from them develop more rapidly as temperature increases. Where development temperature is known, age of maggots, as determined by maggot length or developmental stage, estimates the period of time a decedent has been dead. Forensic entomologists around the world rely on published, species-specific development tables to make these PMI estimations.
We determined if three regionally collected populations of the same blowfly species, Lucilia sericata (Meigen), develop at different rates by rearing them in a common garden experiment. Using post-feeding wandering as an endpoint, we measured the time for development for each population at 16°C, 26°C, and 36°C. For the 16°C trial, the time measurement started at hatch, while for the higher temperatures, the experiment began at oviposition. The three populations exhibited differences in developmental times within each temperature treatment.
This study demonstrates the importance of constructing local population-specific developmental tables when estimating larval age to determine post-mortem interval.
FORENSIC SOIL COMPARISONS BY COLOR, PARTICLE SIZE, DISTRIBUTION, AND HPLC ANALYSIS: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY
Duane Mauzey, MS, D-ABC, Adjunct Instructor, San Diego Forensic Science Program, National University, San Diego
Forensic soil analysis has traditionally focused on mineralogical identification as a means of comparing and contrasting samples collected in the course of criminal investigations. Various inorganic and physical analysis techniques have been employed in crime labs for many years, in order to evaluate mineralogical content. The organic components of soil have largely been ignored up to this point as a potential source for further sample characterization. This study explores what, if any, additional information can be obtained from a soil sample by extracting and analyzing its organic components via high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). A comparison was made between the ability of two traditional techniques (Munsell color classification and particle size distribution) and HPLC analysis to differentiate between soil samples collected from the sides of eight Los Angeles area freeways. In total, ninety-seven samples were collected, analyzed and compared. The HPLC chromatograms were converted to numerical (x,y) values so that correlation matrices could be utilized in order to quantify any differences in the analytical power of the three methods. Following the creation of correlation matrices for all three data sets, HPLC analysis of organics was found to have great potential for more effectively differentiating sampling locations than Munsell color comparison or particle size distribution.
MEASURING THE IMPACT OF SFPD DNA CASEWORK
Matthew Gabriel, MFS, San Francisco Police Department Forensic Services Division
The creation of the national DNA Databank has had a tremendous impact on solving violent crimes within the country. The San Francisco Police Department, which serves a City and County population of ~775,000 residents, receives a small percentage (~5%) of the total number of DNA Cold Hits within California. To date, nearly 200 Cold Hits have been obtained for SFPD investigations dating from 1968 through 2008 for cases assigned to many of the details within SFPD Investigations Bureau (including Homicide, Sex Crimes, Burglary, Robbery, Gang Task Force, Juvenile, and others). Of these 200 Cold Hits, a number of individuals have been linked to two or more violent crimes (primarily in cases related to sexual assaults) through DNA testing alone, and interstate matches have been obtained with Oregon, Arizona, Ohio and several other states. Currently, unsolved homicide cases result in offender hits at a rate of one in every four DNA profiles uploaded.
With the knowledge gained from prior DNA casework testing, more recent DNA programs including (1) Additional Sexual Assault Evidence (ASAP) CAL-DOJ consortium grant in partnership with SFPD and other local CA agencies, (2) an SFPD high-throughput property crimes section, and (3) contact DNA testing in felony gun possession cases for FBI Trigger Lock and/or local prosecution, focus heavily on case and/ or evidence sample prioritization to effectively utilize staff resources and maximize the benefits of the DNA Databank. The recent creation of a DNA Cold Case Unit, which includes members of the Crime Laboratory, SFPD Investigations, and SFDA's Office, has also allowed a more effective and strategic case approach to addressing probative DNA Cold Hits. Many of the benefits and challenges presented by increasing numbers of DNA Cold Hits and subsequent Cold Case tracking, as well as mechanisms for data and information sharing of these investigative leads, increase the need for effective Cold Case management at the city and county level.
FROM ABO TO STRS: THE RICKIEANN BLAKE HOMICIDE
Annette Peer, San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory
On April 11, 1986, at 2210 hours, a passing motorist discovered the body of a fourteen year old Rickieann Blake in the roadway of an off-ramp from the 1-15 freeway in the city of San Diego. Rickie had been reported missing from the family home, to the Chula Vista Police Department at 0500 hours on April 11, 1986. She was last seen alive at 2300 hours on April 10 by her sister, watching T.V. in her residence. This homicide went unsolved for 17 years. This presentation details the unusual circumstances surrounding Rickie's death, and chronicles a case that went cold four times, but was never forgotten.
RESOLVING EXTREMELY COMMINGLED SKELETAL REMAINS FROM THE KOREAN WAR THROUGH MITOCHONDRIAL DNA TESTING
Jamie Steinitz, MFS, Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, Rockville, Maryland
One of the primary missions of the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) mitochondrial DNA section is to aid the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command- Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC-CIL) in the identification of missing service members from previous U.S. military conflicts, including World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam conflict. While all of these encounters were characterized by large numbers of commingled remains, recoveries from the Korean War, which took place from 1950-1953, have been particularly challenging in presenting multi-victim cases that are difficult to separate into individuals.
The Korean War resulted in over 30,000 American casualties and approximately 8,000 of that number are still unaccounted for. Between 1990 and 1994, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) unilaterally returned 208 caskets of skeletal remains to the United States. These caskets are referred to as the K208.
This presentation will focus on the AFDIL's commitment to the mitochondrial DNA testing of the K208. New technologies targeting autosomal DNA in an effort to aid the identification process will also be discussed. AFDIL has processed a large number of these skeletal elements already, and mitochondrial DNA has confirmed what JPAC-CIL anthropologists already suspected; a majority of the caskets, purported to contain the remains of a single soldier, actually contain the skeletal remains of many individuals. After mitochondrial DNA testing is performed, the anthropologists at the JPAC-CIL segregate each collection of remains into potential individuals. Simultaneously, maternal references are collected and tested for comparison to the mitochondrial DNA profiles generated from the commingled remains. Comparisons are conducted using AFDIL's bioinformatics system, LISA (Laboratory Information Systems Applications).
To date, the AFDIL mitochondrial database contains references for over 59.3% of those missing from the Korean War. The identification of the K208 commingled remains continues to be a priority mission for the AFDIL and the use of mitochondrial DNA testing results in successful leads for many of these cases. It is our hope that the use of mitochondrial DNA and future developing technologies will ultimately result in the re-association and identification of missing soldiers so that they may be returned home to their families.
ENVIRONMENTAL FORENSIC MICROSCOPY
Richard S. Brown, M.S., DABC, Executive Director, MVA Scientific Consultants
Environmental forensic microscopy is a term used to describe the application of microscopical methods of analysis to the classification of particles that have been released into the environment to determine the source or origin of the particulate. The techniques used by the environmental forensic microscopist are identical to those used by the trace evidence examiner who uses different types of microscopy to characterize and identify particles and unknown materials. A combination of techniques is used, including polarized light microscopy (PLM), scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS), Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIR) and transmission electron microscopy-energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry with selected area electron diffraction (AEM). Case examples demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the different microscopes when applied to World Trade Center (WTC) dust, identification of building materials, "exploding" portable air field components, and nuisance dust.
UPDATE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SEARCHABLE FORENSIC SOIL DATABASE (SQUID)
Marianne Stam, California Dept. of Justice, Riverside, Criminalistics Laboratory
This presentation discusses progress in the development of the Soil Query Information Database (SQUID), a searchable forensic soil database. Sample collection, statistical considerations, the GIS based database, and the preliminary evaluation of different soil characteristics that may be the most useful as discriminatory tools will be presented.
Currently, at least 300 soil samples have been collected within the 36 square mile study area. Seventy-five of these were collected from a 10 square mile swath of the southwest corner of the study area, and approximately fifty were collected from a 6 square mile area in the northeast part of the study region.
The 90 to 180 micron and the less than 90 micron fractions of the southwest samples have been evaluated for their color, and the whole samples for their magnetic susceptibility. Preliminary examinations of the data suggest that these two easily obtainable features may be important for the discrimination of soil samples in this area.
The northeast section of the study area contains multiple alluvial units derived from differing parent material. Because of the high variability within these units, attributes such as magnetic susceptibility and color may not be suitable for discriminating between them. Consequently, the samples collected here will also be examined for their heavy mineral content and the ability of these minerals to distinguish between the different alluvial soils.
Discriminate analysis is being applied to the soil color, magnetic susceptibility, and trace mineral data to differentiate the geologic and soil units. A GIS map database is currently under construction to exhibit spatial variability. It is comprised of multiple layers including the geologic map units and their attributes. Attributes such as color, trace minerals, magnetic susceptibility, particle size, and heavy mineral separations will contribute individual GIS layers. This study will serve as a pilot project that can guide the development of a greater statewide or regional system.
CHALLENGES FACED BY THE TIJUANA CRIME LABORATORY
Fernando Zuniga Chiquette, Tijuana Crime Laboratory
The Tijuana Crime Laboratory is the state crime laboratory of Baja California and performs analyses for the jurisdictions of the Baja California cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada, and Tecate. The Tijuana Crime Laboratory also assists the states of South Baja California, Sinaloa, and Sonora. The laboratory performs general forensic analyses such as toxicology, narcotics, and substance identifications. Since 2002, the Tijuana Crime Laboratory has developed its capacity for DNA analysis. The DNA unit performs determinations in homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and human identifications. The Tijuana Crime Laboratory is still expanding and faces many challenges. The various challenges faced by the Tijuana Crime Laboratory will be presented along with interesting cases from south of the border.
THE IDENTIFICATION OF HUMAN REMAINS FROM A 1992 HELICOPTER CRASH SITE IN BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
Shawn Montpetit, San Diego Police Department
In 1992, the Department of Urban Development and Ecology of the Baja California government commissioned a covert census in an attempt to politically position themselves for a substantial budget increase. A prominent Texas conservationist agreed to perform the census and traveled to Baja California to begin work. The conservationist, named Lloyd Kolbe and father to Darren Kolbe a noted singer/songwriter, left his campsite in the mountains of Baja California and was never heard from again. His fate and whereabouts were a mystery for 14 years when, in September of 2006, a helicopter crash site was found in the Calamajué Mountains of Baja California. DNA analysis performed at the San Diego Police Crime Laboratory was able to answer some of the questions surrounding the helicopter crash. Yet, some questions still remain unanswered. This presentation will describe the circumstances surrounding the census and the analysis of the remains from the crash site including how Minifler™, a new DNA typing kit designed for challenged samples, was used to help identify the remains from this 14 year old crash site.
PHOTOSHOP APPLICATIONS TO BLOODSTAIN PATTERN ANALYSIS
Carolyn Gannett, San Diego Sheriff's Crime Lab
Some applications of Photoshop to bloodstain pattern analysis will be presented. Included will be: overlaying of luminol or fluorescein images onto flash images; spatter mapping; flattening images taken at an angle; and enhancement of images to improve visualization of blood in photos.
QUEST FOR CONVICTION-WORDS, REALITY, AND THE DANDO SHOOTING
Professor Brian Ford, World-renowned microscopist, lecturer, broadcaster, and publisher.
The celebrated British television presenter Jill Dando was shot dead outside her London residence. After forensic and legal investigation and a widely-reported trial, a suspect was gaoled (jailed) for the murder. A review of the evidence shows how slight it truly is. There are singular difficulties posed for lay members of a jury in interpreting forensic science, and this case shows that the force of words - rather than the nature of the evidence - can hold sway in producing a verdict that is, at best, highly questionable.
EFFECTS OF DISTANCE ON THE DEPOSITION OF GSR
Richard Patron, Forensic Science Services, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner
This study was conducted to determine the distance at which gunshot residue (GSR) may be deposited on individuals who have been shot or shot at. Two 9 mm Beretta model 92FS semi-automatic pistols were used to fire control and experimental ammunition. The control ammunition, Fiocchi CAL. 9 mm Luger 115 gr. FMJ, produced three component particles containing lead (Pb), barium (Ba), and antimony (Sb). The experimental ammo, Sellier & Bellot 9mm Luger 115 gr. FMJ has a primer cap with a tin foil liner, and produced particles containing lead (Pb), barium (Ba), antimony (Sb), and tin (Sn)(experimental particles). Eight adhesive discs were mounted to each of the twelve cardboard targets. Control and experimental shots were taken at 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, and 50 feet from the muzzle of the firearm, and a ninth disc was used to sample the area around the bullet impact site. One hundred and eight discs were collected and analyzed by automated scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). Twenty-seven 20, 14, 16, 11 and 4 experimental particles were detected at 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, and 50 feet respectively. The results of this study indicate that GSR may be deposited on individuals who have been shot, or shot at, from a distance of up to at least 50 feet from the muzzle of the firearm. Therefore, positive GSR results from shooting victims should be interpreted with caution.
CSI: DIPTERAN GENOMICS
Aaron Tarone, Univ. of Southern Cal., Molecular and Computational Biology
Forensic entomology can be used to help estimate a postmortem interval (PMI) by taking advantage of 1) the rapid colonization of a body by blow flies and 2) the reliable development of insects. Though accurate, such estimates can be imprecise when based on older developmental stages, which have longer durations. Body size can be used to refine PMI estimates based on blow fly evidence; however, this trait is not useful for predicting the ages of the least precise stages of blow fly development. Two fields of research can be relied upon to improve PMI estimates: molecular and quantitative genetics. Current research uses the expression levels of developmentally regulated genes to assess blow fly ages. These data indicate that gene expression can significantly improve the precision of an age estimate. As PMI predictions become more precise however, work must also be done to improve their accuracy, which can be achieved through a quantitative genetic analysis of blow fly development rate. Finally, future directions of research, dependent on massively parallel signature sequencing, offer the chance to produce genome-level analyses of blow fly gene expression, potentially enabling a much more detailed understanding of blow fly development than is currently understood.
AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITY: MURDER IN MIDDLE AMERICA
Bill Wilson, Microtrace Scientific Laboratories
A teenage boy was stalked and brutally killed after he returned home from school one fall day in 1998. A suspect was arrested and charged with the crime. The police believed that the crime occurred one way; we were brought in to evaluate the case and drew different conclusions based upon our reconstruction. A protracted legal battle ensued regarding admissibility of key evidential items pertinent to the case. After four years, the issues were resolved and the case went to trial. Based on microscopical evidence and bloodstain pattern interpretation, the suspect was convicted. This presentation will address key elements of the crime and demonstrate with graphic photographs how the crime was actually committed.
DNA STABILIZATION DURING STORAGE AND TRANSPORT
Steven Lee, Biomatrica, Inc.
DNA sample storage is of paramount importance in forensic, epidemiological, clinical, and genetic laboratories. In forensic DNA laboratories there is always the possibility that cases may be re-opened and any stored DNA sample may need to be re-tested. This is especially important when the amount of DNA is limited. Forensic evidence samples such as hairs, bones, teeth and sexual assault evidence may contain less than 100 pg of DNA. In addition to sample quantity, degradation, exposure to UV, storage buffers and temperature of storage may lead to differences in the ability to recover and retest the sample. Utilization of the most efficient storage method is critical in the ability to re-test samples. Low yields or loss of DNA may even preclude or diminish the ability to test crime scene samples using current STR methods. Optimal storage of DNA extracts is pivotal for downstream analysis. Biomatrica, Inc. has developed a technology for the stable, dry storage of biological materials at ambient temperatures. SampleMatrix™ (SM), was derived from studies on extremophile organisms, some of which may be reduced to anhydrous conditions, a state known as anhydrobiosis. SM may protect DNA by forming a protective sheath around DNA, forming a barrier to degradation and loss.
An international consortium of leading forensic, academic and government laboratories has been formed to evaluate SM as an alternative to conventional freezer storage. In one study, the quality of control DNA (K562) recovered from room temperature dry storage in SM at various time intervals is being assessed. Recovered samples will be quantified using qPCR and agarose gel electrophoreses. Preliminary results indicate that the integrity of DNA samples stored dry in SM is maintained over 4-6 months as compared to samples stored in standard microfuge tubes. Samples stored in SM were amplified using a variety of STR multiplexes including Powerplex 16, Identifiler and Profiler Plus. No detectable inhibition to PCR amplification of the STR multiplexes was observed even in the presence of high concentrations of the SM. DNA samples stabilized in SM were protected from fluctuating temperatures and humidity (up to 51.6°C and 73% RH) during continuous shipment in an non-insulated shipping container for 208 days. Preliminary data also show that artificially degraded DNA was stabilized in SM at room temperature.